Communications Archive

Students

  • Message from the Student Program Office to Full-Time MBA students:

    Dear Fulltime MBA students –

    We are writing to share details about the availability of public dining options here at Rice (https://dining.rice.edu/public-dining).

    Currently, you can take advantage of the following on-campus options:

    Ambassador Chinese Café in the Student Center, located just to the East of McNair Hall out the Rotunda East Door
    - For hours and details, visit: https://dining.rice.edu/ambassador-chinese-cafe (open 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. right now)

    Curbside at the Club, orders may be placed for pickup at the faculty club located in Cohen House, dine-in for parties of 1 or 2 is also available
    - For hours and details, visit https://dining.rice.edu/curbside

    Little Kitchen HTX in Brochstein Pavilion (good outside tables for dining)
    - For hours and details, visit: https://dining.rice.edu/public-dining/little-kitchen-htx

    Best,
    The Student Program Office

  • Message from George Andrews, Associate Dean of Degree Programs, for students:

    Dear students,

    I have been asked by numerous people for the path forward to holding others accountable for the social distancing (leave 6 feet of distance) and mask norms. I write to provide a suggested path to follow.

    1. Offer a corrective action for them to follow

    They may be unaware that they are violating social norms. If they are not following social distancing you are welcome to encourage them to separate. If they are not wearing a mask you can ask them to put it on. If they do not have one, masks are available at the Student Program Office (among other locations). If they are wearing their mask incorrectly you can ask them to adjust it over the nose. If someone gets too close to you, you can politely ask them to step back, or stop approaching.

    2. If they do not take the suggested corrective action

    You should let them know that being in the building, in fact being on campus, is to agree to follow the norms we have developed. If they will not adhere you should call the Rice University Police Department (713-348-6000) and they will come and ask for compliance from the individual. If they will not comply they will be removed from the building and campus. During these interactions the RUPD collects the names of these people to be referenced if needed (see next step).

    3. If the same person repeats the violation

    If the same person repeats the same behavior you are welcome to remind them that the behavior will result in their being removed from campus and not allowed to return. If they will not comply you should call RUPD and they will be removed and will not be allowed back on campus.

    4. If these are faculty, staff or students

    Please inform the Deans' office so additional action can be taken. Staff should be reported to Deanna Golden. Faculty should be reported to Jeff Fleming. Students should be reported to George Andrews.

    RUPD will be patrolling the campus looking for violations and talking to those who are not in compliance. You may be surprised to learn that they have already banned a handful of people from campus who would not comply. In addition to RUPD, the office of Student Judicial Programs will pursue sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct, for reported student violations.

    However, you should not expect that others will be responsible to do the task of holding violators accountable. It will be up to each of us to have these conversations when we see it.

    If you see something, say something.

    George Andrews
    Associate Dean, Degree Programs
    Jones Graduate School of Business
    Rice University

  • Message from Adam Herman, Executive Director of the Student Program Office, for students:

    Dear MBA students –

    We are looking forward to welcoming students back to campus next week as we open for classes on Monday, August 24. This will be a first day of school like no other we’ve experienced, and as you know, we are taking many precautions to ensure the safety of everyone in our community. We’ve compiled the details here for you to read and consider before coming to McNair Hall.

    IN PERSON vs. REMOTE

    Based on the data we collected from students in the August 10 preference survey, the vast majority of students will be able to have their preferred option for in person or remote learning. In a small number of cases, we will need to rotate in-person seats to make sure they’re distributed fairly.

    By Friday, you will receive an email from SPO@rice.edu confirming your delivery mode as either in person or remote. This email will also contain a list of courses, a room number pairing, and your assignment for that course to either “A” or “B” cluster. For in-person students in courses using two rooms for course delivery, these clusters determine which of the two rooms you are in each class meeting.

    You can change your preference from in person to remote at any time. If this is a permanent change, please let us know so we can reassign your in-person seat if needed. However, if you wish to change from remote to in person, we will provide opportunities throughout the semester to do so.

    BEFORE COMING TO CAMPUS, PLEASE NOTE:

    · Being on campus is a choice, and a privilege. During the Fall 2020 semester, you can always opt to access courses remotely.

    • Each day, ensure that you can answer yes to these questions:
      • Do I feel safe going to campus?
      • Do I feel comfortable going to campus?
      • Am I going to campus voluntarily?
      • Am I willing to follow all rules and policies in support of my own safety and the safety of others?
    • Any time you cannot answer each of these questions with “yes,” we ask you to connect remotely.

    SAFETY PROTOCOLS. Those students choosing to come to campus must adhere to the following to ensure the safety of the group:

    · Testing. You must complete Rice-managed testing before coming to campus. If you have not yet signed up for testing on campus, please do so immediately. To schedule a test, visit: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/form/nnrc3kjrxgya

    · Type the following code when prompted: 83590137

    · NOTE: If you do not have a Rice University ID card, please bring a state-issued ID (driver’s license) to your test appointment and have your Rice netID (e.g., ALX23 for Alex L. Xavier) available.

    · Keep in mind that if you have not scheduled a testing appointment, you will need to participate remotely until your testing is complete.

    · Check yourself. You must conduct daily health self-monitoring, including taking your temperature with a thermometer before coming to campus. If you have any symptoms of any kind (even a sniffle!), do not come to campus. Rice University’s daily health check is here. If you have symptoms or test positive, report it immediately through the Rice University Health Reporting form, at https://coronavirus.rice.edu/

    · Cover your face. All students are required to wear face coverings or masks. If you momentarily forget or accidently let it slip below your nose, we expect your classmates to gently remind you and we expect you to do the same for them. Please bring an extra mask with you just in case.

    · You may momentarily remove your face covering to eat and drink outside the building; for example, the Woodson Courtyard will be one of the designated food consumption zones. Please only remove your mask as long as necessary, and recover your face between bites and sips.

    · No eating is permitted in classrooms, for two reasons. It is not feasible to eat while keeping your mask on and your mouth and nose covered. Second, eating especially creates audible noises and sounds that are picked up by the highly sensitive audio equipment, and broadcast to the full class.

    · Face coverings must be worn any time you are on the Rice University campus, even if you are outdoors. The only exception is when you are eating and drinking, and then only uncover your mouth and nose as long as necessary. This is a university policy that will be evaluated going forward, but – for now – compliance is required and will be enforced by Rice University.

    · Make some room. You must maintain 6 feet of distance from other students, faculty and staff at all times. If you momentarily forget, we expect your classmates to gently remind you and we expect you to do the same for them. As stated above, please increase this distance when you remove your mask to eat or drink in a designated space.

    · Keep it clean. We provide disinfecting wipes for each student to clean their workspace. You must clean your workspace at the beginning and end of each class day, and any time you switch locations.

    · 25 or less. There can be no more than 25 students in any classroom during an academic class at any time.

    · Restrooms. Please pay careful attention to posted occupancy limits.

    Learning Logistics

    · All students must bring a laptop (or other device) and headphones/earbuds to class. Please bring your power cable as well.

    • You will need to be signed into Zoom on your device throughout all classes. This is for three reasons: (1) to participate in breakout and discussion activity via Zoom; and (2) students in McNair will always be able to see remote and opposite-room students through Zoom, and (3) remote students and faculty can see you through Zoom. (You may wish to bring two devices if your note-taking style requires it.)
    • While in the classroom, you need to be disconnected from Zoom audio and have your laptop’s microphone and speakers muted. If you do not do this, there will be distracting and disruptive audio interference.

    Thank you for your flexibility and patience as we adjust to these new procedures. We believe they are a small sacrifice to make to ensure everyone’s safety — and to provide the rich and rewarding educational experience we all desire.

    Sincerely,

    Adam

    --

    Adam J. Herman
    Executive Director, Student Program Office
    Jones Graduate School of Business | Rice University

  • Message from Adam Herman, Executive Director of the Student Program Office, for students:

    Dear students,

    I’m writing to clarify the Jones School’s policy regarding video recordings of class sessions for credit-bearing courses. For a number of reasons listed below, Zoom videos of class sessions will not be made available by default, although exceptions may be made when extenuating circumstances prevent a student from attending the class in real time.

    There are a number of reasons for this policy, including protecting student privacy and Rice intellectual property, but the most important is that we believe real-time live attendance in your classes is the best way to learn the material and contribute meaningfully. A significant portion of the value of MBA classes is in the experiential nature of the discourse, the conversations, and the contributions of classmates. We want you to be able to contribute, and be heard, along with your colleagues. For this reason we urge you to attend class, at the scheduled time, when possible.

    Of course, we understand that your circumstances may not always make this possible, so we grant exceptions that give students access to videos for the following reasons:

    1. A 4-hour time zone difference, based on accommodations approved by your instructor. This doesn’t automatically exempt a student from real-time attendance for every class, however. You will need to work out the specifics with your instructor and receive approval for any special arrangements. For teamwork, you will need to find a time that works for the team to collaborate.
    2. Disability accommodation, documented and approved by the Disability Resource Center.
    3. A one-time/ad hoc extenuating circumstance, such as a car accident, illness or child care issue. These exemptions must be approved by your professor, after being routed to the Student Program Office.

    This policy is designed to maintain as normal a class experience as possible despite conditions that are far from normal — and to preserve the fullness and richness of your MBA experience. We appreciate the flexibility and adaptability you’ve shown in this unprecedented time, and we look forward to working with you to minimize any hardship or inconvenience. Please contact the Student Program Office if you have questions.

    Thank you,

    Adam

    --

    Adam J. Herman
    Executive Director, Student Program Office
    Jones Graduate School of Business | Rice University

  • Message from Adam Herman, Executive Director of the Student Program Office, for students:

    Dear Section 2 students in the Full-Time MBA ’22 class –

    We are thrilled to welcome you to McNair Hall for your Launch Day in McNair on Tuesday, August 18. This e-mail contains details that you should carefully read and consider before coming to McNair Hall. Many of these are details you will need to know when classes begin as well.

    Key Details for Tuesday

    If you need immediate assistance en route McNair Hall on Tuesday, please call Barbara Brave or Adam Herman.

    Parking. Please park in the Central Campus Garage located below McNair Hall. If you have not yet purchased a parking pass, you may pull a ticket from the entry gate ticket dispenser and we will provide a guest validation ticket for you to exit. (You can get this guest validation ticket at lunch.)

    McNair Hall is at Laboratory Road and Alumni Drive on the Rice University Campus. (Google Maps link) The primary campus entrance for McNair Hall is Entrance 20 at Rice Boulevard and Kent Street (Alumni Drive). We will greet you in the Rotunda at the east end of the first floor upon arrival

    Your schedule

    • Arrive by 11:10 a.m.. Please arrive in the building by 11:10 a.m. to get situated for the Conversation with Jones Student Association (JSA).
    • Teams 13 – 18 will be in room 116; Teams 19 – 24 will be in the Anderson Family Commons (Room 115)
    • 11:30 a.m. Conversation with the JSA
    • 12:30 p.m. Lunch will be served, and you will safely enjoy the beautiful patio/Woodson Courtyard outdoor area for dining
    • 1:30 p.m. Business Communications with Professor Janet Moore (Rooms 116 and AFC/115)
    • 4:30 p.m. Succeeding in the MBA Program with Senior Associate Dean Barbara Bennett Ostdiek and Associate Dean Andrews
    • Remarks from Dean Peter Rodriguez will follow the session with Dean Ostdiek and Dean Andrews
    • 5:30 p.m. Physically distant and socially connected Mingling Reception in Woodson Courtyard – join your classmates for light refreshments and festive beverages

    BEFORE COMING TO CAMPUS, PLEASE NOTE:

    Safety protocols. Those students choosing to come to campus must adhere to the following to ensure the safety of the group:

    Testing. You should have participated in Rice-managed testing before coming to campus.

    Check yourself. You must conduct daily health self-monitoring, including taking your temperature with a thermometer, leading up to your arrival on campus. If you have any symptoms of any kind (even a sniffle!), do not come to campus. Rice University’s Daily Health check is attached. If you have symptoms or test positive, report immediately to Health form at https://coronavirus.rice.edu/

    • Cover your face. All students are required to wear face coverings or masks. If you momentarily forget or accidently let it slip below your nose, we expect your classmates to gently remind you and we expect you to do the same for them. Please bring an extra mask with you just in case.
    • Make some room. You must maintain 6 feet of distance from other students, faculty, and staff at all times. If you momentarily forget, we expect your classmates to gently remind you and we expect you to do the same for them.
    • Keep it clean. We will provide disinfecting wipes for clean each student to clean their workspace. You must clean your workspace at the beginning and end of each class day, and any time you switch locations.
    • 25 or less. There can be no more than 25 students in any classroom during an academic class, at any time.
    • Restrooms will be available. Please pay careful attention to posted occupancy limits.

    Learning Logistics

    All students must bring a laptop (or other device) and headphones/earbuds to class. Please bring your power cable as well.

    • You will need to be signed into Zoom on your device throughout all classes. This is for two reasons: (1) to participate in breakout and discussion activity via Zoom; and (2) in-person students will always be able to see remote and opposite-room students through Zoom. (You may wish to bring two devices if your note-taking style requires it.)
    • While in the classroom, you need to be disconnected from Zoom audio and have your laptop’s microphone and speakers muted.

    Launch Day in McNair will provide your section an opportunity to experience our technology-enabled classrooms and dual-mode technology, socialize with each other, and safely and comfortably begin exploring your new school. We look forward to seeing you next week.

    Sincerely,

    Adam

  • Message from the Student Program Office for students:

    Dear MBA students --

    As members of the Rice community, we have come to appreciate and value the Culture of Care that we have so intentionally fostered on our campus, reflecting Rice’s values of responsibility, integrity, community, and excellence. The Culture of Care serves to promote and protect the greater good by providing students with a framework for living and working together at Rice.

    Maintaining our Culture of Care has been essential in the past months while we have navigated the impacts of the pandemic, as we remain committed to our community by uniting in times of crisis and doing our part. In order to carry on the educational mission of our university while minimizing person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 and protecting those most vulnerable to the disease, Rice puts forth this 2020-2021 Graduate Student Culture of Care Agreement that outlines the behavioral expectations for Rice students in re-opening the educational spaces and residences in our campus community. The agreement is available to all current graduate students in Canvas.

    We ask that you read the Graduate Student Culture of Care Agreement and indicate your agreement on or before August 23, 2020.

    Thank you,

    The Student Program Office

  • Message from the Student Program Office for Full-Time MBA '21 students:

    Dear Full-Time MBA ’21 students –

    As we prepare to return to campus on August 24, we are writing to invite you to participate in COVID-19 testing prior to the start of Fall semester if you plan to attend courses or any programming in person.

    There are two options available for on-campus testing: (1) rapid testing, which will take place Sunday, August 23, just before the semester starts; and (2) PCR testing, which you may schedule on your own, any time between now and your return to campus.

    Both rapid testing and PCR testing meet the Rice requirement to get tested before returning to campus. You must be tested through Rice-managed testing before returning for fall semester.

    SIGN-UP INSTRUCTIONS

    Rapid Testing (taking place on Sunday, August 23): If you would like to participate in Rapid Testing, on Sunday, August 23, please schedule your appointment by Thursday, August 13, at 5 p.m. at this form: https://forms.gle/m3LmdNYEjyF9Mfad7

    PCR Testing (scheduled on your own, multiple slots available daily between now and your return to campus)

    If you would like to take part in PCR testing, visit https://veoci.com/veoci/p/form/nnrc3kjrxgya

    • Type the following code when prompted: 83590137
    • NOTE: If you do not have a Rice University ID card, please bring a state issued ID (driver’s license) to your test appointment and have your Rice netID (e.g., ALX23 for Alex L. Xavier) available.

    Thank you,

    The Rice Business Student Program Office

  • Message from the Student Program Office for MBAP and EMBA students:

    Dear MBA for Professionals and MBA for Executives students –

    As we prepare to return to campus on August 24, we are writing to invite you to participate in COVID-19 testing prior to the start of Fall semester if you plan to attend courses in person. Especially if you are in Houston now, and it is convenient for you to get to campus, you may wish to schedule testing this week.

    (If you will not be attending in person in August or will choose remote attendance throughout the fall, you may delay getting tested until closer to your campus arrival, or your return to campus-based courses.)

    Note that only a certain “window” of testing dates is available now. If you choose to get tested later this month (closer to your first in-person class date), we have been advised that the testing dates for the week of August 24th will open around August 20th.

    To Schedule a COVID-19 test, visit: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/form/nnrc3kjrxgya

    • Type the following code when prompted: 83590137
    • Further directions are provided in the attached .pdf document. (linked at bottom)
    • NOTE: If you do not have a Rice University ID card, please bring a state issued ID (driver’s license) to your test appointment and have your Rice netID (e.g., ALX23 for Alex L. Xavier) available.

    Thank you,

    The Rice Business Student Program Office

  • Message from Adam Herman, Executive Director of the Student Program Office, for students:

    Dear MBA students,

    Tomorrow (Monday, August 10), you will receive a survey from the Student Program Office asking you to indicate how you prefer to participate in your fall 2020 courses.

    The predominant course delivery mode for fall 2020 will be Dual-Mode, Two-Room Course Delivery, which allows up to 50 students to be present in McNair Hall for each scheduled course. (Dual-Mode delivery means the class session is delivered to students both in person in McNair Hall, and remotely via Zoom, during the scheduled time block.)

    Each physical classroom in the two-room course delivery model will have up to 25 students, allowing us to meet the requirements of the university for physical distancing. Based on preliminary projections, we believe we will be able to meet most of the demand from students who wish to be in person. In cases where we cannot, we will equitably rotate access to in-person seats.

    We are sharing below the brief video that highlights and demonstrates our Dual-Mode, Two Room Course Delivery setup, which allows on-campus and remote learners to have an engaging and impactful learning experience, and provides the opportunity for all learners (on-campus and remote) to contribute meaningfully to classroom conversations and interact with the instructor. We hope you feel the same way we do: we've got this.

    View the video here: https://youtu.be/Rlf10Sk_qvk

    Please be on the lookout for the course delivery preferences survey, arriving by the end of the day tomorrow.

    With kind regards, as we move toward the fall semester,

    Adam

    --

    Adam J. Herman
    Executive Director, Student Program Office
    Jones Graduate School of Business | Rice University

  • Message from Adam Herman, Executive Director of the Student Program Office, for 2nd year students:

    To the Class of ’21,

    It’s been a difficult spring and summer. We know how much remains uncertain as we return to fall classes and the second year of your MBA program.

    In next week’s Town Hall, we will be sharing details regarding the delivery of courses, club and other student activities, and career education, advising and search. The link to the recording of the Town Hall will be sent to you within 24 hours of the Town Hall.

    Regardless of the delivery mode of courses or COVID-related constraints, classes will be offered on schedule to ensure that the academic objectives are met and you can earn your degree in time for a May 2021 graduation. We cannot predict, however, how the year will unfold and what constraints we will all face — including a possible forced return to fully-remote delivery.

    With the uncertainty in mind, some of you may be interested in taking a leave of absence for either the fall semester or the entire academic year. Our leave of absence (LOA) policy allows you time off, returning in either January or August 2021 to graduate in either December 2021 or May of 2022. This option may not be right for everyone, but could be helpful for students who are seeking all of the typical non-COVID era in-person elements of the Rice Business student experience. 

    On Thursday, July 30 at 6 p.m., we will hold an information session where you can learn more about the LOA policy in depth and ask questions of Maria Johnson, director of academic advising, and Matt Wakeman, director of student financial services. Connect to the information session via Zoom at this link or by visiting https://zoom.us/join (Meeting ID: 96205106604 Passcode: 985642).

    If you would like to discuss a leave of absence and whether it would be right given your professional goals and current circumstances, please connect with Maria Johnson. You can email her at maria.johnson@rice.edu or schedule an appointment with her at https://go.oncehub.com/MJ_ScheduleaMeeting

    With best wishes as we move forward together,

    Adam

    --

    Adam J. Herman
    Executive Director
    Student Program Office
    Jones Graduate School of Business
    Rice University

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for students:

    Dear students,

    Today, one day following the funeral and celebration of the life of George Floyd — which took place in our hometown of Houston — we reflect on the inspiring message of that peaceful event and the importance of this moment in our history. Now we must bring the determination and hope needed to match the need for change, unity and healing. We must also commit to promoting a fair society for all through our primary mission, which is to provide an education that prepares our students to lead effectively and justly and which equips them to improve society and the organizations they lead.

    Many of our students and alumni are meeting this challenge now. Please, consider championing the Jones Student Association’s fundraising effort (see their GoFundMe page here for more details) in support of organizations at the forefront of the issues highlighted by the death of George Floyd.  

    While we continue to support each other through, and share the weight of our concerns about, efforts to combat racial injustice and the global pandemic, we’re also focused on the future. Rice is preparing for a return to campus, including policies and practices regarding face covering, physical distancing and maximum density of students, faculty, staff and guests on our campus. We’re doing the same at the business school. Our Fall Reopening Working Group is mapping out use of classrooms, offices, hallways, bathrooms and common rooms to make us ready for staff, faculty and students returning to the building. You will hear more about these details in the near future from that team.

    I’m optimistic that we’ll be on campus soon, safely face-to-face, enjoying the positive energy and camaraderie that makes our community special, and reenergized to begin the important work we must do on many fronts.

    Best,
    Peter
  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students, friends and new alumni,

    Congratulations to those of you who graduated this past weekend. You are now our newest alumni. Welcome! You made it, and we’re proud of you.

    We produced, as did Rice University and other schools all over the world, our first ever online graduation celebration. While we will celebrate again in person in the fall, this virtual ceremony still delivered a feeling of intimacy as we watched from home and reminisced about the journey these past few years and recent months. We’ve all come together to weather the storm and find solutions to any roadblocks. We’ve reached out and held each other up. I feel grateful for this community and the solidarity you’ve shown. 

    Also, in keeping with the week of graduation, we held our spring slate of meetings with our faculty, the Council of Overseers and Rice Board of Trustees. I finished the week satisfied that we have and will continue to make progress towards our strategic goals. 

    Governor Abbott spoke Monday to confirm the state is moving into Phase 2 of the safe and strategic reopening of businesses. While COVID-19 hospitalizations remain steady, testing across Texas has increased in recent weeks and the percentage of tests coming back positive has continued to drop. 

    Still, most of us will continue to work from home, perhaps for some time. We’ve entered week 10 of this period of working apart/working from home and it feels a bit like Groundhog Day. In the coming weeks we will announce further details about our plans for the new academic year, including how we will return to teaching and working safely on campus. We will prioritize safety for everyone in our community and will need your support and cooperation to help us make wise decisions and deliver on our mission for our students and the broader academic community.

    While you continue to adjust to a different way of working and living, I hope you will find calm and comfort wherever you are and that you will continue to work well and support each other. Remember that we’re in this together. The resilience and commitments I have seen from our community over the last few months makes me confident that together we will see it through and advance our school to new heights.

    Best,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    This week holds the crowning moment of our academic year: graduation. It’s our favorite time of year and our proudest. And yet, this year, everything is different.

    We are celebrating countless “firsts” this spring, at Rice, at home, at work. Our first ever Virtual Graduation Celebration scheduled for Friday at 1:00 PM may possibly rank as the biggest first of all. To those of you graduating, I extend heartfelt congratulations from the entire Rice Business community. We will never forget the past few months. After Friday, we will never forget the Class of 2020, who accepted their unusual position, rose to the occasion and graduated from home. We hope you enjoy this experience with its extra special touches unique to this unique year. We look forward to celebrating an in-person Investiture in the fall, coinciding with the university's on-campus commencement.

    Another first for the school, we held our first remote Council of Overseers meeting yesterday. Made up of 51 community and business leaders, the council comes together formally three times a year and helps advise the business school to be the best it can be. Yesterday, over Zoom, we discussed candid projections for the state of the economy and the school. It left me optimistic and appreciative of the expertise we have within our community to help us flourish during uncertain times.

    Finally, I’m pleased to introduce a special online edition of the alumni magazine, a first that may have lasting repercussions. What started out as an experimental format to stay connected during a time when perhaps a printed magazine delivered through the mail may not have been read has turned into a clean, modern and possibly more reader-friendly option. You’ll have to let us know what you think.

    As I pause on the threshold of graduation, I send you all best wishes for the future and for continued health and happiness. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through. 

    Best,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    We are two months into this season of working from home and going strong. While there is some unrest around the country about reopening businesses, the Rice Crisis Management Team has been clear: faculty and staff who have been working remotely should continue to do so. This means it’s worth it to get comfortable at home, even if it’s only a temporary “office,” such as the kitchen table. As the university works on a phased return plan for faculty, staff and students, Scott Sonenshein’s new book with Marie Kondo, "Joy at Work," has some meaningful advice about working from home that just may come in handy right about now.

    Last night, President Leebron sent a detailed message about Rice’s plans going forward. I encourage you to read through it. I’ve pulled out a few salient points that pertain to our school:

    • We are cautiously optimistic that we will begin the new academic year on schedule with all students who are able returning to campus.
    • Depending on evolving facts and government rules, we will plan a gradual process of reopening, keep social distancing standards high and expect those who are interacting on campus to wear masks.  
    • At each stage, we will re-evaluate our plans as the facts and circumstances surrounding COVID-19 change.
    • All summer events and camps are canceled through the end of July. 
    • Rice courses scheduled during the undergraduate summer session will be offered only online.
    • Starting in early June, after assessing the circumstances and the recommendations from health authorities, we will gradually bring back staff from across all campus functions, while continuing to encourage those who can to work from home. It will be up to each dean’s discretion as to which staff members return to campus.
    • We will be adopting additional safety measures across our campus community, including protocols for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and precautionary isolation of individuals that may have been exposed to the virus.
    • Large gatherings will continue to be prohibited on campus. 
    • Classes may be scheduled in a somewhat different way in order to accommodate additional social distancing measures. All classes will be offered in a dual mode (both on campus and online).
    • The policies regarding employment will remain in force for the month of May, namely that no full-time employees will be furloughed or discharged solely by reason of the COVID-19 crisis or because we are unable at this time to bring them back to the campus to work.
    While the president’s message applies to the entire university, there are some measures we will address independently. Now, while working apart, we need each other (more than ever) to do spectacularly well the things we are used to doing spectacularly well in person. Let’s help each other make this graduation celebration the best, first and last remote celebration ever. Look for a link to our celebration in next week’s letter and join us if you can.
     
    Finally, with a nod to John Krasinski’s “Some Good News,” I wanted to share “Our Good News” about two graduating students and an alumna:
    • Poets & Quants announced its "100 Best & Brightest MBAs: Class of 2020” full-time feature. We had two students included this year: Norma Torres Mendoza and Doug Fiefia. I am so proud to have them represent Rice Business. Poets & Quants calls these students the “leaders who rally; the mentors who champion; the visionaries who awaken; and the volunteers who shoulder the heaviest burdens.” Well done, Norma and Doug! You can find them on pages 4 and 5 here.
    • One of our 2019 MAcc grads, Molly Garrison, earned this year's Watt-Sells Award for her CPA exam score. The top 137 test takers out of 175,000 receive this award! This makes the third year running that a MAcc grad has won the Watt-Sells Award, which is phenomenal in light of our small size and the fact that, unlike the vast majority of CPA exam test-takers, our award winners have all been non-accounting undergrad majors. Congratulations, Molly.

    Please feel free to pass along other good news pieces for me to share. Continue social distancing. Wear face coverings in public. Stay safe and stay positive. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through.

    Best, 
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    These seven weeks of working from home and staying out of public spaces have tested our stamina like no other crisis. Nevertheless, we’re managing well amid the pandemic, the disruption to our schedules and the personal toll. I am confident we will be ready and fit for a gradual return to campus and for a strong start for our next academic year. Thank you.

    The economic fallout from the pandemic and the downturn in the oil and gas industry are likely to further test our community, but I want to assure you that our school has a strong financial position. We maintain healthy financial backstops and plan to continue normal operations and staffing through this downturn. We expect to end the fiscal year at break even and will continue to innovate and invest for the future while managing the necessary fiscal discipline.  

    We’re looking at fall schedules and trying to understand what it will take to be prepared. Currently, the university won’t open the campus for events until July 1. While I expect that we will be able to offer an in-person kickoff for new fall cohorts and course delivery for continuing students, we are also preparing for the possibility of further delays in a full return to normal campus operations. These preparations will include the provision of remote launch and kickoff events as well as remote course delivery options should these be required due to direction from state and or local government. To maintain readiness in the event of future disruptions and to address ongoing health concerns, we are also preparing to offer a simultaneous in-person and remote course delivery. 

    Meanwhile, admissions numbers look strong and, by some measures, are better than in recent years. International students face a high degree of uncertainty with respect to visa issuance and travel restrictions, and we have had more requests than usual for deferrals or late deposits. MBA@Rice numbers are higher than anticipated, and overall created applications have jumped for on-campus programs. Extended June deadlines will give us a higher likelihood of achieving our enrollment targets for the fall.

    Two final notes. One, the Rice Crisis Management Team sent out a reminder that starting yesterday an order went into effect requiring people over the age of 10 to wear a face covering when they’re in public places through May 26. No need to wear it when you’re alone in a room or an office, while you’re eating or drinking or exercising outside, but you do have to wear face covering on campus. Two, the governor held a press conference yesterday to outline a three-phased reopening of the Texas economy. After the stay-at-home order expires Thursday, April 30, phase one of the new plan will begin Friday, with safety standards in place and limited capacity. If the infection rates continue to decline, the state could move into phase two by May 18. For phase one, there will be no change to events on campus; we will remain closed. 

    I feel a little promise in the air, along with spring. I hope you do too. Continue social distancing. Wear face coverings in public. Stay safe and stay positive. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through. 

    Best, 
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    Most of us have been working from home for over a month now, though it may seem longer than that. With this extended and unchanging routine comes challenges and also moments of unexpected, simple pleasures. I hope you’re experiencing those moments, staying healthy and finding new ways to be positive.

    We are awaiting updates from state and local government to slowly “re-open” the state and what that will look like for Houston and Rice. In the meantime, President Leebron extended the campus closure for events to July 1, and there have been no guidelines about returning to campus just yet. I’ll keep you posted on details about that.

    A few encouraging notes:

    • Started applications are up for the MBA@Rice July cohort. Projections for early May are 100 submitted applications, up from 55 last year.
    • We’re also looking for virtual alternatives to Professor Scott Sonenshein’s launch for his latest book, Joy at Work, which he co-wrote with Marie Kondo. Stay tuned!

    Although we may be working apart for a while longer, I’m grateful for our accomplishments now, both for the school and in the community. Until we see each other in person (soon), keep up the great work.

    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,

    I’m truly encouraged by the creativity and resiliency I see amidst the pandemic. Across our community I see people appreciating the small things, celebrating holidays in new ways, planning the first-ever virtual Investiture (just announced!) and working productively from home. Thank you for keeping positive attitudes and living the commitments and values that make us proud to be a part of Rice Business. 

    Progress continues at Rice University despite our physical absence from campus. For-credit undergrad summer session classes will be offered at a 50% discount from last year’s tuition, not only to registered undergraduate students but also to the general public. These include our popular undergrad business minor classes and a few other undergraduate elective courses. (It doesn’t include graduate courses.) For those interested, or who know a high school or college student who might be interested, find more details on application and admission here

    The university has also been hard at work planning the next steps for our community. The president has decided to extend the campus closure for events to May 31 to keep everyone safe. It remains unclear when and under what guidelines we will return to working from campus but, at this point, we know that we will not have any events on campus before June. 

    A few additional things I’m proud of this week:

    • Zoom sessions are through the roof! From March 16-31, we held 616 Zooms, 231 of which were classes. For the first 11 days of April, we’ve held 343 Zooms, 201 of which were classes. We’ve also used it to stay connected with a Staff Town Hall, staff coffee chats and International Partio. Check out how we managed partio in this video. 

     

    • On April 6, Rice Business was highlighted in Poets & Quants ranking of minorities at the top 25 U.S. MBA programs. Rice Business topped the list at 35%. Only four schools have 30% or more. This is impressive but not surprising to me. We’ve been intentional in creating a diverse community. Now everyone else knows it too. 
    • Our Career Development Office has been hard at work responding to the news that companies are forced to make difficult decisions around staffing and the future of their talent acquisition strategy, including lay-offs and furloughs. Their new initiative, called REV (recruit, explore, volunteer), helps with challenges our alumni and students face with job search and talent acquisition. 

    Keep doing your best to stay home, stay healthy and stay positive. Remember that we have much to be grateful for, that we have a strong community to support us and that we’re all in this together.

    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,

    I hope this message finds you healthy, optimistic, and still connected to your friends, relatives and work. I was very proud to read President Leebron’s latest message over the weekend explaining that Rice has opened two residential colleges as temporary housing for medical personnel who work in Texas Medical Center hospitals. It’s one more way that Rice shows its gratitude for and commitment to Houston and our incredible healthcare community. 

    I am also pleased to share that at Rice Business, it’s business as usual, except for meeting in-person that is. In other words, classes continue, research continues, admission information sessions continue, the new MBA Early Admit program has officially launched, and MBA applicants are temporarily allowed to provide ACT or SAT scores instead of GMAT or GREs due to closed standardized testing sites. Our team has proven to be resilient, creative and adaptive in this challenging time. We’ve made other temporary changes too:

    • The MBA@Rice Negotiation ILE taught by Professor Jing Zhou that was planned to be on campus this past weekend also shifted online. Jing said the course was brilliant. The students actively participated in all negotiation exercises and made high-quality, thoughtful and practical contributions to class discussions. At times of great uncertainty and challenge, true leaders emerge and step up, and she felt our Rice MBA students did just that. She felt the faculty and staff also worked well together as a team to make it happen, thanking in particular Michael Koenig, Barb Ostdiek, Megan Gossett, Derek Hill and Marci Carlson. Her only difficulty? “I am so used to walking around the classroom while teaching, that sitting for a full day and a half was a challenge. Right after the class ended, I went out to run for a long time, setting a personal record!”
    • We’ve made the decision to produce the spring issue of Rice Business magazine in online form. That will allow us to get you the latest information and to update it with new developments as they happen. We’ll share a link when the issue goes live on our website.
    • The first ever virtual admit day for full-time MBA students kicked off with a virtual partio last Thursday where admitted students were split into groups for virtual trivia and getting to know each other. On Friday they had the chance to connect via Zoom with the deans, Career Development and Student Program offices, current students, and the admissions team. 

    Rice Business is a closely-knit community that knows how to respond to a crisis, but COVID-19 has challenged us in new ways. I know we’re all looking to support each other, our students and our neighbors. Please, reach out to colleagues and lead from where you are to preserve and leverage the ties that are our collective strength. Share the details of life that we may have taken for granted in a setting where closeness and togetherness were easier to achieve. Look for our faculty in the news. And, most of all, stay connected, stay positive and stay home.

    Best,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Rice Business Community, 

    Yesterday, the "Stay At Home" order was extended until April 30. For our community at Rice Business, these orders mean we’ll be extending our current work-from-home procedures until then as well. Though social isolation takes a toll on everyone, the leadership that our Rice Business family shows at this time makes a life-or-death difference for our loved ones and our neighbors. Thank you for your meticulous honoring of these measures.

    Because of the extension of the "Stay at Home" order and the likely need to continue substantial social distancing measures well after this date, Rice announced postponement of in-person graduation for the class of 2020. We are adopting the same for Investiture. Second year students, I know how deeply disappointing this is for you and your families. You have earned the celebration of a master’s hood after two years dedicated to business school. We are determining next steps, and we will inform you about the new schedule and other details about Investiture as soon as we have a plan to announce.

    In the coming weeks, our communication plan is to update all our audiences (staff, faculty, students, alumni and other business community leaders) on a weekly basis unless there is a major change in the crisis that includes new direction for the community. 

    These uncertain times may obscure the positive and inspiring actions all around us and within our community, but I've seen many of them recently. Speaking with dozens of newly admitted students this week assures me that our future is bright and that the ways we demonstrate our community's care, compassion and resiliency are noticed by everyone we touch. And, this unprecedented event is already producing innovations and improvements in all we do. Despite its challenges, this is also an exciting time to work in academia. 

    Thank you for your fortitude, and for defending the health of the community far beyond Rice's beautiful campus. We'll get through this together and be the stronger for it. 

    Best,
    Peter

    Looking to rep Rice Business during Zoom calls? Look no further.

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Rice Business Community, 

    I write to update you on our school in light of the ‘Stay Home, Work Safe’ order issued this morning by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Under the order, which begins at 11:59 this evening and lasts until at least Friday, April 3, all of Harris County joins Dallas County, Brazos County, Galveston County and the cities of Austin and San Antonio, which have issued similar orders. 

    The judge’s order asks that we, ‘… stay at home unless our jobs are essential to the health and safety of the community.’ The good news is that we’re almost all of the way to this point at Rice Business now. The additional adjustments we have to make are relatively small and manageable. Thanks to so many of you who have rallied and supported each other, we are able to ensure that our primary mission to educate not only continues, but also continues to meet our high standards. 

    Beginning tomorrow, the number of people on campus will be reduced to the bare minimum. Thinking of our beautiful campus without us on it seems like such a loss, but this unprecedented circumstance also reminds me of a sign outside a rural church near my hometown. The sign read, ‘The Pirtle United Methodist Church Meets Here,’ making it clear that what mattered was the people dedicated to the mission of the place, not the place itself. Just as the congregation, not the building, comprised the Pirtle United Methodist Church, our community, and not our campus, is the essence of our school. 

    A few days after the rain stopped from Hurricane Harvey, a reporter asked me how our school was managing to carry on. Despite all the chaos, what I recall most were the undeniable bonds connecting our community and the strong feeling of optimism and pride at working with friends who were also great citizens and generous leaders. With many needs to fill, facing hard work and hard adjustments, we were at our best, taking care of each other, supporting the well-being of our community and giving our best efforts for our students. That time is here again and I know, and have seen, that we have within our community everything we need to flourish through this moment.

    Our rallying call to be ‘attentive, responsive and kind’ in all that we do was established to express the values made evident in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Now, as then, let’s lead from where we are and act to express these same core values in all the ways we engage with each other and with our community. 

    Stay connected, stay positive and stay home, 
    Peter 

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Rice Business Community, 

    In this moment, amidst a cacophony of messages and the odd urgency of doing less, it seems safe to say that we all prefer the usual version of March Madness. Yesterday, missing the presence of all those college basketball games really hit home. Not everything about college revolves around sports, but some of the very best things do. Years of preparation and teamwork burst onto our screens, backdropped by gleeful students and passionate alumni. The intense thrill of competition draws out our fighting spirit and reminds us that part of our identity is deeply attached to ‘our’ schools. Bracket competitions fill every workplace and involve even those with no real interest in sports. We are connected, together, having fun and celebrating competition, endurance, talent, and most of all teamwork. It’s a two-week festival for why we love college. This year, we are really going to miss it — and spring professional sports, Rodeo, concerts, the Rice Business Plan Competition, etc.

    What really moves our spirit about the NCAA Tournament is identifying with the universal appreciation for a great team and the contributions of every single member of that team. Seeing them pushed to their limits, dripping sweat and revealing every emotion on their faces is like looking out at our teammates this past week and, sometimes, like looking in a mirror.

    Over the past few weeks, the faculty, staff and students at Rice Business have pushed our own limits like never before. We went to all-remote course delivery this week for all of our degree programs. We started one week before the rest of the university and even started with the MAcc program a week earlier. Doing so was, and remains, a truly enormous task. Ours was spearheaded by a relatively small group in our Office of Technology (OOT) and the professors who turned on a dime to adapt their courses. The OOT team deserves high praise and respect. They are our first responders and have left every ounce of their commitment ‘on the court’ since this situation began.

    In this past week:

    • We have successfully delivered 224 remote class sessions for 95 courses taught by 56 faculty. 
    • We’ll deliver more this weekend and will ramp up delivery for our undergraduate courses next week, bringing our expected weekly totals to nearly 300 sessions per week. 
    • We also delivered a fantastic panel on the financial and economic impacts of COVID-19 to over 200 students and had some fun, too. 
    • Students lightened the mood in one Zoom class session by dressing-up in “Harry Potter”-themed fashion. 
    • And we held a ‘remote Partio’ for a hearty band of about 40 students last night. 

    We are adapting very well to this rapid change and will have to continue doing so. Presence on campus will need to be kept to a bare minimum. More courses will need to be delivered from individual faculty offices or homes. And we will have to address all the consequences that follow from remote delivery and not being able to gather for events and celebrations. 

    Please, continue to cooperate with what we must do to adapt and be patient, supportive and creative in all the ways we engage with each other for the rest of the semester.

    Though there is much to do, I am more confident than ever about our team’s ability to deliver success on all fronts. My inbox, text messages, phone calls and Slack channels are filled with all the right phrases: ‘What can I do to help?’ ‘Tell me what we need.’ ‘I’m on it.’ ‘Let’s get it done!!’ ‘We got this!’ 

    We have many tests ahead, but together, we’ll best them all. Stay connected and safe and please, do what you can from where you are to pitch in and keep our community engaging, interesting and exciting throughout this period. 

    Patiently awaiting March Madness 2021,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for students, staff and faculty:

    Dear Rice Business Community,

    I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to cancel ‘in-person’ classes for the week of March 9th. To clarify, this decision was not made because any more Rice students or personnel have been quarantined or tested positive for the coronavirus — they have not.  

    One reason for this decision was to prepare more of the campus for remote class delivery, which will help to accommodate students who are ill, immunocompromised or uncomfortable attending class in these circumstances. Being better prepared for remote class delivery and other class options helps keep everyone safer. The ‘extra’ week of preparation allowed by the cancellation makes it more likely that we will be able to complete courses that are underway or soon to begin. Fortunately, Rice Business is prepared for remote delivery in many of our classrooms and we are quickly adding capacity. Students in most courses will soon receive instructions on how to access their remote class or what alternatives to in-person classes are being offered.  

    Rice’s administration also announced the decision to eliminate activities that bring increased risk for the potential spread of the virus, namely, events with more than 100 people in close proximity. We will soon announce any reschedulings or alternatives to Rice Business events of this size which were scheduled. At a minimum, no such event will take place on campus before April 30th. This change, too, helps keep everyone on campus safer and reduces the discomfort some may feel being on campus when such an event takes place. These two key changes, along with those regarding international travel and unnecessary domestic travel, will make the campus a safer place. 

    Everyone on our campus should feel safe and be supported in making thoughtful decisions about their work while we are managing the risks of this health issue. For all who work at Rice Business, your safety is paramount. We have not and will not employ work policies that are unsafe for you. Please, contact your supervisor if you feel that you need an exception to our standard work policies. I ask that supervisors refer these requests to the Dean’s office and we will do our best to work out a solution as soon as possible. Some of you already have established suitable remote work procedures. Please use them as necessary and be sure to stay in close connection to your supervisor and business unit. 

    Finally, I ask that you be patient and generous with each other as we all do our best to address and adapt to these recent decisions about our campus. 

    Sincerely, 
    Peter 

  • Message from Adam Herman, Executive Director of the Student Program Office, for students:

    Dear Rice Business students –

    As we transition to 100% remote delivery of Rice Business courses, our top priorities are safeguarding you and your loved ones while continuing to ensure that your graduate business education is exceptional and effective.

    This message is intended to share guidance and resources as you attend classes 100% online for the remainder of the semester:

    • A remote-delivery classroom is a classroom. Please make sure that you have a quiet place, free from distractions, where you can log on to Zoom with your own camera activated and a microphone on your device to actively participate as you would in an on-campus class setting.
    • You do not need a Zoom Pro license to connect to your scheduled class sessions. You simply need to access the link to the Zoom session from within your course’s Canvas site. These links are not yet available but will be soon. Thank you for your patience.
    • Zoom Best Practice Quick Guide
    • We will offer remote sessions of Zoom Best Practices, Tips and Tricks with Senior Associate Dean Barbara Ostdiek. The first two of these sessions will occur Sunday, March 15 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The URL for these sessions will be posted to https://business.rice.edu/coronavirus no later than Sunday morning at 10AM. Additional sessions will be offered throughout the week ahead. 

    Thanks for your patience and flexibility,
    Adam

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for students:

    Dear Rice Business Student Community,

    I’m writing to outline the new expectations as we return to classes on Monday, March 16th.

    • All courses will meet remotely. Attendance in on-campus classrooms will not be permitted.
    • Details on the remote access option for each course will be found via that course’s Canvas site.
    • Real-time attendance at the scheduled class time is required.
    • For urgent or time-sensitive questions about class delivery (not class content), please contact the appropriate program leader:
    • McNair Hall will remain open for students, faculty and staff. To support the goal of social distancing, we are not requiring any student presence in McNair Hall.

    We will provide further information about Zoom in a following email.
     
    Thank you again for your continued flexibility and patience as we work to ensure a safe and effective learning environment.
     
    Best,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Members of the Rice Business Community, 

    I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to encourage remote delivery options for all courses where possible. We intend to have remote delivery capability for all courses and class sessions this semester. As of today, however, we will resume all classes on Monday, March 16th and continue our work to ensure all students can participate remotely wherever possible.  

    By Friday, March 13, we will update you on the remote delivery options that will be available for each course. Some courses may employ a streaming option, whereby students can opt to attend classes on campus as usual or via a live video feed (e.g. Zoom). Other courses may move fully online and only use video conferencing for everyone in the course. Professors may also establish substitutes for in-person meetings, lectures or group activities by adapting course assignments to include more outside reading, writing or asynchronous classwork. No changes in course delivery will be made for the MBA@Rice program, apart from the April residential courses, which will either be rescheduled or adapted to online or hybrid delivery. 

    Students: you will receive additional information regarding specific courses through the course Canvas site and general program information from the Student Program Office. 

    Staff should direct work-related issues to Fabiola Currarino at Fabiola.Currarino@rice.edu.

    In providing these options, we are doing all that we can to adopt responsible strategies consistent with public health recommendations to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Please note that we will still have some meetings and events on campus, provided that they adhere to Rice’s decision to limit large gatherings in confined spaces. Individual meetings and small group gatherings are allowed and will continue in many cases. 

    We will continue to follow Rice’s policy regarding foreign travel: Anyone arriving from countries on the CDC’s level 2 and 3 warning lists must self-isolate and stay away from campus and student housing and have no physical contact with the Rice community for two weeks after returning to the U.S. This includes any students, faculty or staff traveling for personal reasons; all visitors; arriving new students; and arriving new employees.

    These measures meet the CDC’s recommendations for higher education institutions and are meant to ensure the safety of all members of the Rice Business community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests — and their families. 

    Be patient, be nice and wash your hands, 
    Peter 

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for students, staff and faculty:

    Dear Rice Business Community,

    I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to cancel ‘in-person’ classes for the week of March 9th. To clarify, this decision was not made because any more Rice students or personnel have been quarantined or tested positive for the coronavirus — they have not.  

    One reason for this decision was to prepare more of the campus for remote class delivery, which will help to accommodate students who are ill, immunocompromised or uncomfortable attending class in these circumstances. Being better prepared for remote class delivery and other class options helps keep everyone safer. The ‘extra’ week of preparation allowed by the cancellation makes it more likely that we will be able to complete courses that are underway or soon to begin. Fortunately, Rice Business is prepared for remote delivery in many of our classrooms and we are quickly adding capacity. Students in most courses will soon receive instructions on how to access their remote class or what alternatives to in-person classes are being offered.  

    Rice’s administration also announced the decision to eliminate activities that bring increased risk for the potential spread of the virus, namely, events with more than 100 people in close proximity. We will soon announce any reschedulings or alternatives to Rice Business events of this size which were scheduled. At a minimum, no such event will take place on campus before April 30th. This change, too, helps keep everyone on campus safer and reduces the discomfort some may feel being on campus when such an event takes place. These two key changes, along with those regarding international travel and unnecessary domestic travel, will make the campus a safer place. 

    Everyone on our campus should feel safe and be supported in making thoughtful decisions about their work while we are managing the risks of this health issue. For all who work at Rice Business, your safety is paramount. We have not and will not employ work policies that are unsafe for you. Please, contact your supervisor if you feel that you need an exception to our standard work policies. I ask that supervisors refer these requests to the Dean’s office and we will do our best to work out a solution as soon as possible. Some of you already have established suitable remote work procedures. Please use them as necessary and be sure to stay in close connection to your supervisor and business unit. 

    Finally, I ask that you be patient and generous with each other as we all do our best to address and adapt to these recent decisions about our campus. 

    Sincerely, 
    Peter 

Faculty and Staff

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for faculty:

    Dear Colleagues,

    I write to share a brief message with you on this day before we formally welcome some of our students to learning in our classrooms and for some of us to teach them in those classrooms or to interact with them in-person on campus.

    First, I offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to each of you for the many efforts you have made and will continue to make to deliver our hallmark, outstanding programs. This year has presented profound, serious and unique challenges to the way we work and to our health and safety. I have directly and indirectly observed the remarkable efforts you have put forth to serve our students and each other. You have wrestled with too many challenges and yet have shown impressive and unflagging resolve to best them. I have never seen a faculty exhibit a deeper commitment to the teaching mission as the one I have seen from our faculty colleagues at the Jones School this summer. It’s an honor to work with you!

    Second, I write to offer my perspective on what to expect regarding the university protocols and COVID testing. The university, appropriately, manages all COVID testing policies and executes or governs the execution of all testing operations and data collection and dissemination practices. All of you have read about and have likely have formed an expectation of how testing will be conducted and how testing data will be shared. Aggregate testing data will be shared via the university’s testing updates anddashboard. And, whenever a student or other member of our campus community tests positive for COVID, they will be required to fill-out this health form, the contract tracing process for that case will commence, and some will be alerted and be required to follow the appropriate health protocols for exposure to COVID.

    The university is well prepared to conduct contract tracing, will follow the CDC’s recommended practices for contact tracing for COVID-19 and will share information with all those who are determined to be close contacts to someone who tests positive for COVID in our community. Anyone who was not determined to be a close contact will not be informed. A COVID-positive student, faculty member, or staff person may of their own accord choose to volunteer the results of their tests or share other details about their activities with others. However, the university/we will not share or disseminate contact tracing details that did not result in close contact. Working with the university’s testing committee and while respecting all health and privacy rights, the Jones School will share and properly characterize all COVID data we are able to share in a timely manner.

    Third, I have an update on how the Jones School with proceed with respect to COVID-Testing of our Tech-TAs – the contracted service-providers we will use to support course delivery this fall. All Tech TAs who have not been recently tested, (as of yesterday, most had not) will be tested before the end of next week (August 28th) and their testing outcomes/reports will be submitted to and verified by the Jones School. We will require and fund testing of all Tech TAs on a schedule that is recommended by the university given the extent of their presence in our classrooms.

    Finally, I know that you are awash in information, requests to review and consent to abide by new procedures, and that you do not have all the answers to all the questions you may have concerning how the university and the Jones School will operate to address new procedures and issues related to COVID-19. Please, share your questions with me and with other members of the Dean’s team and we will do our best to clarify the policies and practices we will follow.

    Thank you again and best regards,

    Peter

  • Message from Barb Ostdiek for faculty:

    *** Sending to faculty list serves for efficiency. Target audience: faculty teaching this fall. Faculty teaching in the UGRAD and PhD programs this fall, please let me know if you have questions/concerns not addressed below.***

    Colleagues,

    The time is here. After planning, preparation, and a few pilots, we fully re-open on Monday. I am writing to 1) ask you to confirm your final course delivery modality and 2) share some new information regarding course logistics, some clarifications, and some reminders.

    It’s a lot. Please read.

    Action required:

    • Confirm/update your course modality selection here so we can update registrar records.
    • If you have two classrooms, you need to determine if/how student will rotate between the rooms. Please see below for details.
    • If you have not completed the online and dual delivery training required by the University, you need to complete the training. Please see below for details.

    Thank you and be well,

    bb

    Barbara Bennett Ostdiek
    Senior Associate Dean of Degree Programs
    Jones Graduate School of Business
    Rice University

    Attachments

    1) PDF of “coming to campus” email sent to all MBA and MAcc students
    2) PDF of email regarding class session recording policy
    3) Safety slide

    University Training Videos - Required

    Every faculty member teaching this fall MUST complete the training modules here:

    https://catalog.rice.edu/browse/online/courses/fall-2020-dual-delivery-training . Despite the link address, there are required modules for both dual deliver and for online/remote delivery. Thank you to those who have already completed this requirement. Those of you who have not yet done so, please do so. Otherwise, Peter, Jeff or I will have to sit with you (at a 6 ft distance) and watch them together. Watching the required videos (on your own!) is not a terribly onerous requirement. The University is paying close attention to compliance because this is a hot button item for our accreditors.

    Course Logistics

    (Physical) Breakout Room Assignments for Term 1

    Next week’s assignments were shared today. The assumption is that all breakouts will take place over Zoom but that in-person students will need a room/s to effectively participate; that is, participating directly from the classroom will not work well.

    • It may be the case that in-person students will be in two different breakout rooms because the breakout rooms can accommodate only 2 students at a time.
    • Groups will also be assigned to the course classroom/s and to other spaces in the building not traditionally used for breakouts.
    • If you need breakout rooms for class meetings next week and you did not receive an assignment today, please let me know so I can address over the weekend. Please include course information, group size, number of groups, and specific dates and times that you need the rooms.
    • If you need breakout rooms for term 1 class meetings after the first week of classes and you do not have an assignment by the end of next week, please contact Sarah Kubena ( sarahkubena@rice.edu ) with your specific request. Please include course information, group size, number of groups, and specific dates and times that you need the rooms.
    • If you get into the term and need to adjust, either releasing rooms or adding rooms, please contact Sarah directly or through your FC.

    Timing of breaks for evening and weekend courses

    To ease congestion in the hallways, vending machines and restrooms we are attempting to stagger breaks a bit. We recognize that this may not work for you for each class meeting or at all; to the extent that it does work, please consider the schedule below:

    Schedule Rooms Break / First Break Second Break
    Evening 116, 214, 216, 312, 317, 318 target to end before 7:45  
    Evening 212, 217, 218, 314, 316 target to begin after 7:45  
    Morning Weekend and EMBA 116, AFC, 214, 216, 317, 318 target to end before 9:30 target to end before 11:00
    Morning Weekend and EMBA 212, 217, 218, 312, 314, 316 target to begin after 9:30 target to begin after 11:00.
    Afternoon Weekend and EMBA 212, 214, 216, 312, 314, 316 target to end before 3:30 target to end before 5:00
    Afternoon Weekend and EMBA 116, AFC, 217, 218, 317, 318 target to begin after 3:30 target to begin after 5:00

    In-Person or Remote Student Preference Designation

    Students submitted their in-person or remote preference the week of August 10th.

    First Year Students (8/10/20 Survey)

    Program In-Person Remote Not Responding
    EMBA 76% 18% 6%
    FT MBA 82% 15% 3%
    PE MBA 80% 19% 1%
    PW MBA 76% 24% 0%

    Second Year Students (8/10/20 Survey)

    Program In-Person Remote Not Responding
    EMBA 62% 38% 0%
    FT MBA 56% 38% 6%
    PE MBA 55% 31% 14%
    PW MBA 53% 40% 7%

    · With the two-room set-up, we are able to satisfy the preference to be in person for 99% of the in-person student-course pairs for courses beginning next week. (Note: students who did not reply to the survey defaulted to remote only.)

    · For the 6 courses (out of 76) where in-person demand exceeds capacity, randomly selected students will be rotated out each class meeting. The affected students have been informed of this rotation. No student who prefers to attend class in person will have to be remote for more than one class meeting.

    · Specifically, with current preferences, each weekend for EMBA 2022, 6 students will be remote who would prefer to be in person and each evening for one section of Professional Evening 2022, 4 students will be remote who will prefer to be in person. (AMAZING!)

    · Students can change their preference from in person to remote at any time. We asked students to let us know if this is a permanent change so we can reassign the in-person seat if needed.

    · If a student wishes to change from remote to in person, we will provide opportunities throughout the semester to do so.

    Classroom Assignments for Two-Room Dual Delivery

    This information applies only to faculty with courses meeting in two classrooms. You should have an email from Melissa on 7/28 confirming your assigned room/s. Your FC also has the room assignments, or you can find it listed on your Canvas course site.

    For courses with two classrooms, in-person students have been assigned to either cluster A or cluster B. These clusters are the basis for the room assignments (across the pair) each class meeting.

    • Students are instructed that for the first class meeting, cluster A reports to the first room in the room pair and cluster B to the second room.
    • Students are instructed that room assignments for subsequent course meetings will be posted to the Canvas course site.
    • We chose this set up to allow each faculty member to determine how/if they would like to have students move classrooms within or across class meetings.
    • Nearly all classroom pairs include a tiered classroom and a flat classroom, each with a COVID capacity of 25. Tiered classrooms have one screen. Flat classrooms have two.
    • For faculty teaching in person, the default “primary” classroom is the tiered classroom and the “bonus” classroom is the flat classroom. The faculty member would always be in the tiered room, typically with content displayed on the screen. The students would rotate between the two rooms. In the bonus room, the two screens would typically display the faculty from the other room on one and content on the other. {This can be altered when the faculty chooses to display the other classroom and/or the remote students on any screen.}
    • For faculty streaming in, students in the tiered classroom would typically have the faculty pinned to the front screen and would see content – as shared through Zoom – on their laptop and students in the flat classroom have two screens, typically with the faculty and content displayed.
    • Please determine how/if you will rotate students between classrooms. Once you determine how/if you would like to rotate, your FC can post this information to your Canvas course site.

    · For faculty streaming in, it just may not matter enough to worry about . You can inform students that they should keep coming to the classroom they came to for the first session. You can also ask them to let you know if they would like switch and go from there.

    · For faculty teaching in person, please do rotate students between the classes.

    · For 90-minute classes meeting twice a week, this can be done every class meeting.

    · For longer format classes meeting once a week or every two weeks, please consider if this rotation should be done at a break within the same class meeting. At a minimum it should be every other meeting.

    Once you determine your preferred pattern for rotations (or non-rotation), please be sure to post or have your FC post the plan to your Canvas site for students to access.

    Course Support: FCs/CMs/CAs/Tech TAs/SPO

    • For courses beginning next week, you should have received an email from Michelle Kaltenbach with your Class Ambassador assignment. If not, please let Michelle (Michelle.L.Kaltenbach@rice.edu) know.
    • Michelle included in that email a summary of the responsibilities across Faculty Coordinators (FCs), Course Managers (CMs) and Class Ambassadors (CAs).
    • Elaine Brewer is sending a separate email concerning the Tech TA assignment and role.
    • Please reach out to Michelle and/or Elaine (ebrewer@rice.edu) with any questions regarding these roles and responsibilities.

    Adam Herman (Adam.J.Herman@rice.edu) and the Student Program Office team can assist you or your FC with questions regarding course logistics and any individual or cohort-level student issues or concerns.

    If you have any concerns with the support you are receiving from ….

    Any other concerns, Peter, Jeff and I are – for the most part – all ears.

     

    Safety Guidelines & Testing Protocols

    All safety guidelines, processes and procedures are University guidelines, processes and procedures.

    See https://coronavirus.rice.edu.

    Student Return to Campus Messaging

    Please see attached pdf of the message sent to students on Thursday, August 20. One item not directly addressed in this message is drinking in the classroom. Drinking in the classroom is allowed but it must be done with minimal face covering disruption. Students may NOT remove their mask to sip on a beverage. (Eating in the classroom is not allowed.) SPO will work to clarify this with students.

    Safety Messaging and Compliance

    The attached slide will be displayed as students enter the classroom and at the end of each class. The CAs will do this. We will do it for the first month of classes and then reassess.

    In general, we are relying on establishing the necessary new norms through individual and group accountability. Please don’t hesitate to reinforce the safety messaging. Please let Adam know of any concerns regarding student adherence to guidelines in your class meetings.

    Student Testing

    Testing is “encouraged” by the University for all graduate students before coming to campus. We have used stronger language, directing our students to get tested before coming to campus and indicating that they must be remote until they are tested. We do not require proof that they have been tested.

    After the initial test, students – and all other cohorts of people coming to campus – are being tested for three reasons:

    · The individual has symptoms.

    · The individual is identified through contact tracing as someone who has had significant exposure to someone who has tested positive. Significant exposure follows the CDC definition of close contact for more than 15 minutes.

    · The individual is tested as part of a cohort based on frequency of coming to campus and nature of exposure while on campus (level of interaction with other students). We don’t know the actual frequency of testing for any cohorts of students, faculty or staff. We understand the University will provide this information soon.

    Classroom Ambassador and Tech TA Testing

    Classroom ambassadors will be tested by the University according to the sampling strategy for their frequency and level of interaction on campus. Because the CAs only serve classes remotely, the testing strategy applied to them will be determined by their primary staff role.

    Tech TAs are covered by the University policies for contractors which does not explicitly require testing. We are working with the University to ensure that they understand the nature of the Tech TA role. We may be able to modify the testing requirements for this group of contractors. But, right now, no testing is required.

    Contact Tracing and University Information Sharing

    Positive cases are handled through the contact tracing team. When a positive case occurs, the individual and others identified as having significant contact (more than 15 min within a 6’ range) are instructed on when they can return to campus.

    The Jones School will not have specific information on our students, faculty, or staff. It is our understanding that the University will not inform faculty, students and staff of positive cases at the school or class level. Students may choose to inform their classmates and their faculty but they are not required to do so. Minimal staff will be informed in order to monitor that the individuals who should not be on campus are not here but HIPAA requires that staff not share this information.

    Jones School data will be included in the University COVID dashboard. Our understanding is that the Jones School will not be separated out in any fashion.

    ***Select information repeated (and updated) from 7/26/2020 course delivery email***

     

    Remote set-up

    If you are pursuing remote delivery, reach out to OOT to schedule a consultation regarding your technical setup. {jgshelp@rice.edu} Lighting, background, audio, camera position, monitor display all matter. Dual monitors with a big screen for displaying Zoom participants can make a big difference.

    Primary Safety Provisions in the Classroom

    Masks and physical distancing are the two universal requirements. We will create and maintain a very strong social norm around (properly) wearing masks and maintaining 6’ distance/spacing. Faculty can wear face shields while teaching, but only while teaching. Students and staff must wear masks or other cloth coverings over their mouth and nose at all times inside the classroom and building (unless they are alone in their office with the door closed).

    Update: add wiping down desk before and after use as a 3rd universal requirement under University guidelines.

    Schedules

    · Class meeting times for daytime MBA courses have changed slightly. Class meeting times for core MBA courses are staggered so that the passing period across sections and with respect to electives do not overlap. The passing period for MBA first year courses has increased from 15 to 30 minutes to allow for appropriate physical distancing for entering and existing room, in café, at vending machines, and for restroom use. For electives, the passing period has increased from 15 to 20 minutes. The increased passing period also allows a longer Zoom break for the remote students.

    · Class meeting times for evening, weekend and EMBA schedules have not changed although we still need to think through timing of breaks to decrease overlapping traffic. More to come on that.

    · Class meeting times for MAcc classes have not changed.

    Calendar

    Following the University’s decision to close campus after Thanksgiving, all Rice Business MBA and MAcc courses scheduled to meet after Thanksgiving will meet fully remotely. Apart from this change, MBA and MAcc courses will meet as originally scheduled.

    Student Concerns

    · Zoom fatigue . It’s real. It is really, really real for long classes and for multiple days of classes. For evening and weekend schedules, think about the spacing of your breaks whether dual or fully remote.

    · For many remote students, COVID disruption continues, particularly in terms of kids at home. Please be understanding.

    · For courses with a meaningful participation/contribution component, students are quite concerned about how contribution will be assessed for remote students. This is a concern particularly with the dual delivery model but it is also a concern students highlighted with respect to the spring fully-remote experience. Please consider carefully your course design on this dimension and how you will evaluate participation in whichever delivery model you choose and consider alternatives such as capturing chat.

    · If there were ever a time when set office hours make sense, it is now. This will help students connect with you without having to go through the scheduling back and forth. Default for set office hours should be via Zoom. Being available to connect in this manner may be particularly important to students who are attending remotely and for faculty who are teaching remotely.

    · If ever there were a time when review sessions make sense, it is now. While these could be scheduled for dual delivery, it may be easiest for these to default to fully remote.

    · We do not expect a repeat of the grade accommodations we saw in the spring.

    Recording

    All class sessions will be recorded. Faculty, with OOT and FC support, can manage how these recordings are posted or distributed. Class recordings must be made available for students who are ill or are more than 4 time zones away.

    Update: All students received the attached message regarding class recordings.

    Canvas

    Most of you work with your FC to deliver your course completely through the Canvas site. The importance of delivering your course completely through Canvas is paramount now. This includes quizzes and exams. If you need different support to beef up your use of Canvas please reach out to your FC or jgshelp@rice.edu right away so we can get rolling.

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez to staff:

    Dear Rice Business staff,

    I’m writing to update you on changes to our plans for a safe return to campus in light of the surging coronavirus cases in the Houston area. Given the current Harris County guidance to “Stay Home, Work Safe,” Rice University is now planning on an August 23 full reopening of campus. To align more closely with the university’s plan and ensure the safety of all in our community, we have moved all Launch events from July 27- August 16 and all other courses through August 22 to remote only. We are continuing to assess and determine how we will deliver the second week of the Full-Time MBA Launch, which begins August 17; the first week will be delivered remotely from August 10-16.

    Our Reopening Committee is ready to execute their thorough plan, which includes protocols and processes to meet new physical distancing and safety guidelines. Supplies and furniture have been ordered, signage has been designed and produced, and the building is being conditioned by Facilities Engineering and Planning (FE&P). The school will be ready for us when it is safe to resume our phased return to campus.

    This week and next, we are holding town halls with students to address their concerns, and we plan to use their questions as a guide to inform our answers going forward. We are also recording all the questions and answers in a set of FAQs on our website.

    Every day, we are taking care of what needs to get done to lay the groundwork for the year ahead, despite not knowing exactly what that will look like. Thank you for your hard work and determination over the past few months. Because of you, we have made it this far and kept our wits about us while balancing safety for the whole community, curriculum changes, personal needs and working from home. I am grateful. And I know that we will emerge stronger for this test of our compassion and courage.

    Best,
    Peter
  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez to Staff:

    Dear staff,

    I hope you and your families had a chance to enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend. I am writing to let you know the progress and preparations for our eventual return to campus this summer and the roll out of the fall term. 

    Based on research, along with safety protocols coordinated with Rice and the guidance of medical and epidemiological experts, we are working towards all courses being delivered in a dual modality, with students present in the classroom both physically and via remote connection. This ensures that everyone in our community with a health concern, individual concern or company/employer challenge can safely return to McNair Hall, while we provide students with the top-tier education and experience that defines Rice Business. 

    We will have new inputs and changes to our plans throughout the following weeks, but we have teams in place who are working hard to plan, communicate and execute a safe and successful return to campus. 

    The single top priority is your safety. 

    Soon after the first public reports about coronavirus, Rice launched our pre-existing crisis protocol for serious health events. Within days, all classes moved to remote delivery and all on-campus events were cancelled or moved online. Staff and faculty began working from home. We’re grateful to say this functioned early and well, averting major community spread in our university family.

    The Rice University Crisis Management Advisory Council has been meeting consistently since the start of the pandemic. George Andrews is our representative on this team, which sets campus-wide protocols for cleaning, re-entry policy, personal protective equipment (PPE) and more.

    Also, at the university level, a faculty group called the Academic Restart Committee (ARC) has been formed, and James Weston is our delegate. They will be responsible for working through issues to assist faculty and providing advice and guidance on critical aspects of the restart in the fall, whether or not that ends up being dual delivery. At this point, the business school intends to be dual delivery, as stated previously. 

    At the business school level — and coupled with Kevin Kirby’s new Monday updates about the university’s plans, policies and responses — I enlisted a Summer 2020 Reopening Working Group who have been tasked to reopen the school safely and on time.  

    Fabiola Currarino, reporting to Barbara Ostdiek, is the group’s lead, working alongside a few department heads (Kathleen Clark, Adam Herman, Phil Heavilin, Ben Guest, Elaine Brewer and Deanna Golden). On a weekly basis, the group is consulting with the dean’s suite on key issues and decision making. 

    To date, the working group has: 

    • Assessed classroom capacity and compliance with distancing guidelines
    • Recommended new technological capabilities for classrooms
    • Begun outlining guidelines for co-curricular and community-building activities for students
    • Addressed cleaning spaces and safe enter-exit strategies for classrooms and offices
    • Discussed potential shift schedules for staff

    The working group now will be reaching out to students, faculty and staff to learn about special accommodations, constraints, teaching preferences or other concerns needed for your personal safety and professional and personal situation. Adam Herman will be the lead for students; Fabiola will be the lead for faculty and staff.

    More details will follow this email, but for now I want you to know that we are working hard to make everyone feel comfortable about coming back to work and class. In the meantime, I know I can count on your patience and flexibility during this time when we’ll be learning new routines and protocols. 

    Thank you for being an integral part of a problem-solving team. Your creativity and determination will be our hallmark. 

    Best, 
    Peter
     
    P.S. Starting today, my COVID messages to our community will come out biweekly.

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students, friends and new alumni,

    Congratulations to those of you who graduated this past weekend. You are now our newest alumni. Welcome! You made it, and we’re proud of you.

    We produced, as did Rice University and other schools all over the world, our first ever online graduation celebration. While we will celebrate again in person in the fall, this virtual ceremony still delivered a feeling of intimacy as we watched from home and reminisced about the journey these past few years and recent months. We’ve all come together to weather the storm and find solutions to any roadblocks. We’ve reached out and held each other up. I feel grateful for this community and the solidarity you’ve shown. 

    Also, in keeping with the week of graduation, we held our spring slate of meetings with our faculty, the Council of Overseers and Rice Board of Trustees. I finished the week satisfied that we have and will continue to make progress towards our strategic goals. 

    Governor Abbott spoke Monday to confirm the state is moving into Phase 2 of the safe and strategic reopening of businesses. While COVID-19 hospitalizations remain steady, testing across Texas has increased in recent weeks and the percentage of tests coming back positive has continued to drop. 

    Still, most of us will continue to work from home, perhaps for some time. We’ve entered week 10 of this period of working apart/working from home and it feels a bit like Groundhog Day. In the coming weeks we will announce further details about our plans for the new academic year, including how we will return to teaching and working safely on campus. We will prioritize safety for everyone in our community and will need your support and cooperation to help us make wise decisions and deliver on our mission for our students and the broader academic community.

    While you continue to adjust to a different way of working and living, I hope you will find calm and comfort wherever you are and that you will continue to work well and support each other. Remember that we’re in this together. The resilience and commitments I have seen from our community over the last few months makes me confident that together we will see it through and advance our school to new heights.

    Best,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    This week holds the crowning moment of our academic year: graduation. It’s our favorite time of year and our proudest. And yet, this year, everything is different.

    We are celebrating countless “firsts” this spring, at Rice, at home, at work. Our first ever Virtual Graduation Celebration scheduled for Friday at 1:00 PM may possibly rank as the biggest first of all. To those of you graduating, I extend heartfelt congratulations from the entire Rice Business community. We will never forget the past few months. After Friday, we will never forget the Class of 2020, who accepted their unusual position, rose to the occasion and graduated from home. We hope you enjoy this experience with its extra special touches unique to this unique year. We look forward to celebrating an in-person Investiture in the fall, coinciding with the university's on-campus commencement.

    Another first for the school, we held our first remote Council of Overseers meeting yesterday. Made up of 51 community and business leaders, the council comes together formally three times a year and helps advise the business school to be the best it can be. Yesterday, over Zoom, we discussed candid projections for the state of the economy and the school. It left me optimistic and appreciative of the expertise we have within our community to help us flourish during uncertain times.

    Finally, I’m pleased to introduce a special online edition of the alumni magazine, a first that may have lasting repercussions. What started out as an experimental format to stay connected during a time when perhaps a printed magazine delivered through the mail may not have been read has turned into a clean, modern and possibly more reader-friendly option. You’ll have to let us know what you think.

    As I pause on the threshold of graduation, I send you all best wishes for the future and for continued health and happiness. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through. 

    Best,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    We are two months into this season of working from home and going strong. While there is some unrest around the country about reopening businesses, the Rice Crisis Management Team has been clear: faculty and staff who have been working remotely should continue to do so. This means it’s worth it to get comfortable at home, even if it’s only a temporary “office,” such as the kitchen table. As the university works on a phased return plan for faculty, staff and students, Scott Sonenshein’s new book with Marie Kondo, "Joy at Work," has some meaningful advice about working from home that just may come in handy right about now.

    Last night, President Leebron sent a detailed message about Rice’s plans going forward. I encourage you to read through it. I’ve pulled out a few salient points that pertain to our school:

    • We are cautiously optimistic that we will begin the new academic year on schedule with all students who are able returning to campus.
    • Depending on evolving facts and government rules, we will plan a gradual process of reopening, keep social distancing standards high and expect those who are interacting on campus to wear masks.  
    • At each stage, we will re-evaluate our plans as the facts and circumstances surrounding COVID-19 change.
    • All summer events and camps are canceled through the end of July. 
    • Rice courses scheduled during the undergraduate summer session will be offered only online.
    • Starting in early June, after assessing the circumstances and the recommendations from health authorities, we will gradually bring back staff from across all campus functions, while continuing to encourage those who can to work from home. It will be up to each dean’s discretion as to which staff members return to campus.
    • We will be adopting additional safety measures across our campus community, including protocols for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and precautionary isolation of individuals that may have been exposed to the virus.
    • Large gatherings will continue to be prohibited on campus. 
    • Classes may be scheduled in a somewhat different way in order to accommodate additional social distancing measures. All classes will be offered in a dual mode (both on campus and online).
    • The policies regarding employment will remain in force for the month of May, namely that no full-time employees will be furloughed or discharged solely by reason of the COVID-19 crisis or because we are unable at this time to bring them back to the campus to work.
    While the president’s message applies to the entire university, there are some measures we will address independently. Now, while working apart, we need each other (more than ever) to do spectacularly well the things we are used to doing spectacularly well in person. Let’s help each other make this graduation celebration the best, first and last remote celebration ever. Look for a link to our celebration in next week’s letter and join us if you can.
     
    Finally, with a nod to John Krasinski’s “Some Good News,” I wanted to share “Our Good News” about two graduating students and an alumna:
    • Poets & Quants announced its "100 Best & Brightest MBAs: Class of 2020” full-time feature. We had two students included this year: Norma Torres Mendoza and Doug Fiefia. I am so proud to have them represent Rice Business. Poets & Quants calls these students the “leaders who rally; the mentors who champion; the visionaries who awaken; and the volunteers who shoulder the heaviest burdens.” Well done, Norma and Doug! You can find them on pages 4 and 5 here.
    • One of our 2019 MAcc grads, Molly Garrison, earned this year's Watt-Sells Award for her CPA exam score. The top 137 test takers out of 175,000 receive this award! This makes the third year running that a MAcc grad has won the Watt-Sells Award, which is phenomenal in light of our small size and the fact that, unlike the vast majority of CPA exam test-takers, our award winners have all been non-accounting undergrad majors. Congratulations, Molly.

    Please feel free to pass along other good news pieces for me to share. Continue social distancing. Wear face coverings in public. Stay safe and stay positive. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through.

    Best, 
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    These seven weeks of working from home and staying out of public spaces have tested our stamina like no other crisis. Nevertheless, we’re managing well amid the pandemic, the disruption to our schedules and the personal toll. I am confident we will be ready and fit for a gradual return to campus and for a strong start for our next academic year. Thank you.

    The economic fallout from the pandemic and the downturn in the oil and gas industry are likely to further test our community, but I want to assure you that our school has a strong financial position. We maintain healthy financial backstops and plan to continue normal operations and staffing through this downturn. We expect to end the fiscal year at break even and will continue to innovate and invest for the future while managing the necessary fiscal discipline.  

    We’re looking at fall schedules and trying to understand what it will take to be prepared. Currently, the university won’t open the campus for events until July 1. While I expect that we will be able to offer an in-person kickoff for new fall cohorts and course delivery for continuing students, we are also preparing for the possibility of further delays in a full return to normal campus operations. These preparations will include the provision of remote launch and kickoff events as well as remote course delivery options should these be required due to direction from state and or local government. To maintain readiness in the event of future disruptions and to address ongoing health concerns, we are also preparing to offer a simultaneous in-person and remote course delivery. 

    Meanwhile, admissions numbers look strong and, by some measures, are better than in recent years. International students face a high degree of uncertainty with respect to visa issuance and travel restrictions, and we have had more requests than usual for deferrals or late deposits. MBA@Rice numbers are higher than anticipated, and overall created applications have jumped for on-campus programs. Extended June deadlines will give us a higher likelihood of achieving our enrollment targets for the fall.

    Two final notes. One, the Rice Crisis Management Team sent out a reminder that starting yesterday an order went into effect requiring people over the age of 10 to wear a face covering when they’re in public places through May 26. No need to wear it when you’re alone in a room or an office, while you’re eating or drinking or exercising outside, but you do have to wear face covering on campus. Two, the governor held a press conference yesterday to outline a three-phased reopening of the Texas economy. After the stay-at-home order expires Thursday, April 30, phase one of the new plan will begin Friday, with safety standards in place and limited capacity. If the infection rates continue to decline, the state could move into phase two by May 18. For phase one, there will be no change to events on campus; we will remain closed. 

    I feel a little promise in the air, along with spring. I hope you do too. Continue social distancing. Wear face coverings in public. Stay safe and stay positive. Together we’ve made this work, and together we’ll see it through. 

    Best, 
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear colleagues, students and friends,

    Most of us have been working from home for over a month now, though it may seem longer than that. With this extended and unchanging routine comes challenges and also moments of unexpected, simple pleasures. I hope you’re experiencing those moments, staying healthy and finding new ways to be positive.

    We are awaiting updates from state and local government to slowly “re-open” the state and what that will look like for Houston and Rice. In the meantime, President Leebron extended the campus closure for events to July 1, and there have been no guidelines about returning to campus just yet. I’ll keep you posted on details about that.

    A few encouraging notes:

    • Started applications are up for the MBA@Rice July cohort. Projections for early May are 100 submitted applications, up from 55 last year.
    • We’re also looking for virtual alternatives to Professor Scott Sonenshein’s launch for his latest book, Joy at Work, which he co-wrote with Marie Kondo. Stay tuned!

    Although we may be working apart for a while longer, I’m grateful for our accomplishments now, both for the school and in the community. Until we see each other in person (soon), keep up the great work.

    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,

    I’m truly encouraged by the creativity and resiliency I see amidst the pandemic. Across our community I see people appreciating the small things, celebrating holidays in new ways, planning the first-ever virtual Investiture (just announced!) and working productively from home. Thank you for keeping positive attitudes and living the commitments and values that make us proud to be a part of Rice Business. 

    Progress continues at Rice University despite our physical absence from campus. For-credit undergrad summer session classes will be offered at a 50% discount from last year’s tuition, not only to registered undergraduate students but also to the general public. These include our popular undergrad business minor classes and a few other undergraduate elective courses. (It doesn’t include graduate courses.) For those interested, or who know a high school or college student who might be interested, find more details on application and admission here

    The university has also been hard at work planning the next steps for our community. The president has decided to extend the campus closure for events to May 31 to keep everyone safe. It remains unclear when and under what guidelines we will return to working from campus but, at this point, we know that we will not have any events on campus before June. 

    A few additional things I’m proud of this week:

    • Zoom sessions are through the roof! From March 16-31, we held 616 Zooms, 231 of which were classes. For the first 11 days of April, we’ve held 343 Zooms, 201 of which were classes. We’ve also used it to stay connected with a Staff Town Hall, staff coffee chats and International Partio. Check out how we managed partio in this video. 

     

    • On April 6, Rice Business was highlighted in Poets & Quants ranking of minorities at the top 25 U.S. MBA programs. Rice Business topped the list at 35%. Only four schools have 30% or more. This is impressive but not surprising to me. We’ve been intentional in creating a diverse community. Now everyone else knows it too. 
    • Our Career Development Office has been hard at work responding to the news that companies are forced to make difficult decisions around staffing and the future of their talent acquisition strategy, including lay-offs and furloughs. Their new initiative, called REV (recruit, explore, volunteer), helps with challenges our alumni and students face with job search and talent acquisition. 

    Keep doing your best to stay home, stay healthy and stay positive. Remember that we have much to be grateful for, that we have a strong community to support us and that we’re all in this together.

    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends,

    I hope this message finds you healthy, optimistic, and still connected to your friends, relatives and work. I was very proud to read President Leebron’s latest message over the weekend explaining that Rice has opened two residential colleges as temporary housing for medical personnel who work in Texas Medical Center hospitals. It’s one more way that Rice shows its gratitude for and commitment to Houston and our incredible healthcare community. 

    I am also pleased to share that at Rice Business, it’s business as usual, except for meeting in-person that is. In other words, classes continue, research continues, admission information sessions continue, the new MBA Early Admit program has officially launched, and MBA applicants are temporarily allowed to provide ACT or SAT scores instead of GMAT or GREs due to closed standardized testing sites. Our team has proven to be resilient, creative and adaptive in this challenging time. We’ve made other temporary changes too:

    • The MBA@Rice Negotiation ILE taught by Professor Jing Zhou that was planned to be on campus this past weekend also shifted online. Jing said the course was brilliant. The students actively participated in all negotiation exercises and made high-quality, thoughtful and practical contributions to class discussions. At times of great uncertainty and challenge, true leaders emerge and step up, and she felt our Rice MBA students did just that. She felt the faculty and staff also worked well together as a team to make it happen, thanking in particular Michael Koenig, Barb Ostdiek, Megan Gossett, Derek Hill and Marci Carlson. Her only difficulty? “I am so used to walking around the classroom while teaching, that sitting for a full day and a half was a challenge. Right after the class ended, I went out to run for a long time, setting a personal record!”
    • We’ve made the decision to produce the spring issue of Rice Business magazine in online form. That will allow us to get you the latest information and to update it with new developments as they happen. We’ll share a link when the issue goes live on our website.
    • The first ever virtual admit day for full-time MBA students kicked off with a virtual partio last Thursday where admitted students were split into groups for virtual trivia and getting to know each other. On Friday they had the chance to connect via Zoom with the deans, Career Development and Student Program offices, current students, and the admissions team. 

    Rice Business is a closely-knit community that knows how to respond to a crisis, but COVID-19 has challenged us in new ways. I know we’re all looking to support each other, our students and our neighbors. Please, reach out to colleagues and lead from where you are to preserve and leverage the ties that are our collective strength. Share the details of life that we may have taken for granted in a setting where closeness and togetherness were easier to achieve. Look for our faculty in the news. And, most of all, stay connected, stay positive and stay home.

    Best,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Rice Business Community, 

    Yesterday, the "Stay At Home" order was extended until April 30. For our community at Rice Business, these orders mean we’ll be extending our current work-from-home procedures until then as well. Though social isolation takes a toll on everyone, the leadership that our Rice Business family shows at this time makes a life-or-death difference for our loved ones and our neighbors. Thank you for your meticulous honoring of these measures.

    Because of the extension of the "Stay at Home" order and the likely need to continue substantial social distancing measures well after this date, Rice announced postponement of in-person graduation for the class of 2020. We are adopting the same for Investiture. Second year students, I know how deeply disappointing this is for you and your families. You have earned the celebration of a master’s hood after two years dedicated to business school. We are determining next steps, and we will inform you about the new schedule and other details about Investiture as soon as we have a plan to announce.

    In the coming weeks, our communication plan is to update all our audiences (staff, faculty, students, alumni and other business community leaders) on a weekly basis unless there is a major change in the crisis that includes new direction for the community. 

    These uncertain times may obscure the positive and inspiring actions all around us and within our community, but I've seen many of them recently. Speaking with dozens of newly admitted students this week assures me that our future is bright and that the ways we demonstrate our community's care, compassion and resiliency are noticed by everyone we touch. And, this unprecedented event is already producing innovations and improvements in all we do. Despite its challenges, this is also an exciting time to work in academia. 

    Thank you for your fortitude, and for defending the health of the community far beyond Rice's beautiful campus. We'll get through this together and be the stronger for it. 

    Best,
    Peter

    Looking to rep Rice Business during Zoom calls? Look no further.

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Rice Business Community, 

    I write to update you on our school in light of the ‘Stay Home, Work Safe’ order issued this morning by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Under the order, which begins at 11:59 this evening and lasts until at least Friday, April 3, all of Harris County joins Dallas County, Brazos County, Galveston County and the cities of Austin and San Antonio, which have issued similar orders. 

    The judge’s order asks that we, ‘… stay at home unless our jobs are essential to the health and safety of the community.’ The good news is that we’re almost all of the way to this point at Rice Business now. The additional adjustments we have to make are relatively small and manageable. Thanks to so many of you who have rallied and supported each other, we are able to ensure that our primary mission to educate not only continues, but also continues to meet our high standards. 

    Beginning tomorrow, the number of people on campus will be reduced to the bare minimum. Thinking of our beautiful campus without us on it seems like such a loss, but this unprecedented circumstance also reminds me of a sign outside a rural church near my hometown. The sign read, ‘The Pirtle United Methodist Church Meets Here,’ making it clear that what mattered was the people dedicated to the mission of the place, not the place itself. Just as the congregation, not the building, comprised the Pirtle United Methodist Church, our community, and not our campus, is the essence of our school. 

    A few days after the rain stopped from Hurricane Harvey, a reporter asked me how our school was managing to carry on. Despite all the chaos, what I recall most were the undeniable bonds connecting our community and the strong feeling of optimism and pride at working with friends who were also great citizens and generous leaders. With many needs to fill, facing hard work and hard adjustments, we were at our best, taking care of each other, supporting the well-being of our community and giving our best efforts for our students. That time is here again and I know, and have seen, that we have within our community everything we need to flourish through this moment.

    Our rallying call to be ‘attentive, responsive and kind’ in all that we do was established to express the values made evident in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Now, as then, let’s lead from where we are and act to express these same core values in all the ways we engage with each other and with our community. 

    Stay connected, stay positive and stay home, 
    Peter 

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Rice Business Community, 

    In this moment, amidst a cacophony of messages and the odd urgency of doing less, it seems safe to say that we all prefer the usual version of March Madness. Yesterday, missing the presence of all those college basketball games really hit home. Not everything about college revolves around sports, but some of the very best things do. Years of preparation and teamwork burst onto our screens, backdropped by gleeful students and passionate alumni. The intense thrill of competition draws out our fighting spirit and reminds us that part of our identity is deeply attached to ‘our’ schools. Bracket competitions fill every workplace and involve even those with no real interest in sports. We are connected, together, having fun and celebrating competition, endurance, talent, and most of all teamwork. It’s a two-week festival for why we love college. This year, we are really going to miss it — and spring professional sports, Rodeo, concerts, the Rice Business Plan Competition, etc.

    What really moves our spirit about the NCAA Tournament is identifying with the universal appreciation for a great team and the contributions of every single member of that team. Seeing them pushed to their limits, dripping sweat and revealing every emotion on their faces is like looking out at our teammates this past week and, sometimes, like looking in a mirror.

    Over the past few weeks, the faculty, staff and students at Rice Business have pushed our own limits like never before. We went to all-remote course delivery this week for all of our degree programs. We started one week before the rest of the university and even started with the MAcc program a week earlier. Doing so was, and remains, a truly enormous task. Ours was spearheaded by a relatively small group in our Office of Technology (OOT) and the professors who turned on a dime to adapt their courses. The OOT team deserves high praise and respect. They are our first responders and have left every ounce of their commitment ‘on the court’ since this situation began.

    In this past week:

    • We have successfully delivered 224 remote class sessions for 95 courses taught by 56 faculty. 
    • We’ll deliver more this weekend and will ramp up delivery for our undergraduate courses next week, bringing our expected weekly totals to nearly 300 sessions per week. 
    • We also delivered a fantastic panel on the financial and economic impacts of COVID-19 to over 200 students and had some fun, too. 
    • Students lightened the mood in one Zoom class session by dressing-up in “Harry Potter”-themed fashion. 
    • And we held a ‘remote Partio’ for a hearty band of about 40 students last night. 

    We are adapting very well to this rapid change and will have to continue doing so. Presence on campus will need to be kept to a bare minimum. More courses will need to be delivered from individual faculty offices or homes. And we will have to address all the consequences that follow from remote delivery and not being able to gather for events and celebrations. 

    Please, continue to cooperate with what we must do to adapt and be patient, supportive and creative in all the ways we engage with each other for the rest of the semester.

    Though there is much to do, I am more confident than ever about our team’s ability to deliver success on all fronts. My inbox, text messages, phone calls and Slack channels are filled with all the right phrases: ‘What can I do to help?’ ‘Tell me what we need.’ ‘I’m on it.’ ‘Let’s get it done!!’ ‘We got this!’ 

    We have many tests ahead, but together, we’ll best them all. Stay connected and safe and please, do what you can from where you are to pitch in and keep our community engaging, interesting and exciting throughout this period. 

    Patiently awaiting March Madness 2021,
    Peter

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for Students, Staff and Faculty:

    Dear Rice Business Community,

    I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to cancel ‘in-person’ classes for the week of March 9th. To clarify, this decision was not made because any more Rice students or personnel have been quarantined or tested positive for the coronavirus — they have not.  

    One reason for this decision was to prepare more of the campus for remote class delivery, which will help to accommodate students who are ill, immunocompromised or uncomfortable attending class in these circumstances. Being better prepared for remote class delivery and other class options helps keep everyone safer. The ‘extra’ week of preparation allowed by the cancellation makes it more likely that we will be able to complete courses that are underway or soon to begin. Fortunately, Rice Business is prepared for remote delivery in many of our classrooms and we are quickly adding capacity. Students in most courses will soon receive instructions on how to access their remote class or what alternatives to in-person classes are being offered.  

    Rice’s administration also announced the decision to eliminate activities that bring increased risk for the potential spread of the virus, namely, events with more than 100 people in close proximity. We will soon announce any reschedulings or alternatives to Rice Business events of this size which were scheduled. At a minimum, no such event will take place on campus before April 30th. This change, too, helps keep everyone on campus safer and reduces the discomfort some may feel being on campus when such an event takes place. These two key changes, along with those regarding international travel and unnecessary domestic travel, will make the campus a safer place. 

    Everyone on our campus should feel safe and be supported in making thoughtful decisions about their work while we are managing the risks of this health issue. For all who work at Rice Business, your safety is paramount. We have not and will not employ work policies that are unsafe for you. Please, contact your supervisor if you feel that you need an exception to our standard work policies. I ask that supervisors refer these requests to the Dean’s office and we will do our best to work out a solution as soon as possible. Some of you already have established suitable remote work procedures. Please use them as necessary and be sure to stay in close connection to your supervisor and business unit. 

    Finally, I ask that you be patient and generous with each other as we all do our best to address and adapt to these recent decisions about our campus. 

    Sincerely, 
    Peter 

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez:

    Dear Members of the Rice Business Community, 

    I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to encourage remote delivery options for all courses where possible. We intend to have remote delivery capability for all courses and class sessions this semester. As of today, however, we will resume all classes on Monday, March 16th and continue our work to ensure all students can participate remotely wherever possible.  

    By Friday, March 13, we will update you on the remote delivery options that will be available for each course. Some courses may employ a streaming option, whereby students can opt to attend classes on campus as usual or via a live video feed (e.g. Zoom). Other courses may move fully online and only use video conferencing for everyone in the course. Professors may also establish substitutes for in-person meetings, lectures or group activities by adapting course assignments to include more outside reading, writing or asynchronous classwork. No changes in course delivery will be made for the MBA@Rice program, apart from the April residential courses, which will either be rescheduled or adapted to online or hybrid delivery. 

    Students: you will receive additional information regarding specific courses through the course Canvas site and general program information from the Student Program Office. 

    Staff should direct work-related issues to Fabiola Currarino at Fabiola.Currarino@rice.edu.

    In providing these options, we are doing all that we can to adopt responsible strategies consistent with public health recommendations to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Please note that we will still have some meetings and events on campus, provided that they adhere to Rice’s decision to limit large gatherings in confined spaces. Individual meetings and small group gatherings are allowed and will continue in many cases. 

    We will continue to follow Rice’s policy regarding foreign travel: Anyone arriving from countries on the CDC’s level 2 and 3 warning lists must self-isolate and stay away from campus and student housing and have no physical contact with the Rice community for two weeks after returning to the U.S. This includes any students, faculty or staff traveling for personal reasons; all visitors; arriving new students; and arriving new employees.

    These measures meet the CDC’s recommendations for higher education institutions and are meant to ensure the safety of all members of the Rice Business community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests — and their families. 

    Be patient, be nice and wash your hands, 
    Peter 

  • Message from Dean Peter Rodriguez for Students, Staff and Faculty:

    Dear Rice Business Community,

    I write to follow up on the latest message from Rice regarding the decision to cancel ‘in-person’ classes for the week of March 9th. To clarify, this decision was not made because any more Rice students or personnel have been quarantined or tested positive for the coronavirus — they have not.  

    One reason for this decision was to prepare more of the campus for remote class delivery, which will help to accommodate students who are ill, immunocompromised or uncomfortable attending class in these circumstances. Being better prepared for remote class delivery and other class options helps keep everyone safer. The ‘extra’ week of preparation allowed by the cancellation makes it more likely that we will be able to complete courses that are underway or soon to begin. Fortunately, Rice Business is prepared for remote delivery in many of our classrooms and we are quickly adding capacity. Students in most courses will soon receive instructions on how to access their remote class or what alternatives to in-person classes are being offered.  

    Rice’s administration also announced the decision to eliminate activities that bring increased risk for the potential spread of the virus, namely, events with more than 100 people in close proximity. We will soon announce any reschedulings or alternatives to Rice Business events of this size which were scheduled. At a minimum, no such event will take place on campus before April 30th. This change, too, helps keep everyone on campus safer and reduces the discomfort some may feel being on campus when such an event takes place. These two key changes, along with those regarding international travel and unnecessary domestic travel, will make the campus a safer place. 

    Everyone on our campus should feel safe and be supported in making thoughtful decisions about their work while we are managing the risks of this health issue. For all who work at Rice Business, your safety is paramount. We have not and will not employ work policies that are unsafe for you. Please, contact your supervisor if you feel that you need an exception to our standard work policies. I ask that supervisors refer these requests to the Dean’s office and we will do our best to work out a solution as soon as possible. Some of you already have established suitable remote work procedures. Please use them as necessary and be sure to stay in close connection to your supervisor and business unit. 

    Finally, I ask that you be patient and generous with each other as we all do our best to address and adapt to these recent decisions about our campus. 

    Sincerely, 
    Peter